A new initiative has been launched to give a up-and-coming writers a chance to pen an episode of Series 13 of Doctor Who. The group behind it is ScreenSkills, the UK industry-led skills body for the UK’s screen-based creative industries – animation, film, games, and television.
ScreenSkills and Luther producer Marcus Wilson (who worked on Doctor Who between 2011 and 2013) will award bursaries of £15,000 each to 5 new writers to produce speculative scripts for either Doctor Who or Call The Midwife. These writers will have the opportunity to work alongside the series’ principal writers, one on one or in the writers’ room. Each new writer must not have written for a high-end TV drama series previously, had no experience in a writer’s room, and can have no more than two production credits for single dramas to their name (but they can have worked on soaps, radio, or theatre).
This opportunity isn’t open to individual writers, only production companies. There is no obligation for the production to use the script, but if they do, the new writer must receive a credit on the drama. Zoe Cooper, a playwright who has worked with the National Theatre, has already been named as the first winner for Call the Midwife.
One of the stated purposes of the initiative is take some of the uncertainty out of an independent production company working with a new writer by providing part funding for the work. As ScreenSkills High End TV director Kaye Elliott says:
Making primetime drama is an expensive and risky business, which makes it understandable when companies turn to tried and tested writers… This award will help de-risk the process of an indie working with a writer that it has never worked with before. Even if the episode is not used, the writer gets invaluable experience.
Other high-end dramas are expected to join the initiative in the future, and the award is open to further applications. With luck, we may see the fruits of this work in Series 13.